Welcome to my homeschool blog, which offers insights into loving learning, loving your family, loving history, loving homeschooling, and enjoying your life! With your cup of coffee in hand, take a break to laugh with me, to have your heart refreshed, to be reminded of how cool your kids really are, and to consider the amazing adventure of being a homeschool mom. AND, if you are interested in the History Revealed curriculum, be sure to check out my Teaching Tips!
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Today I Choose Joy

I love this week's topic. Experiencing the bubbling up of real joy is one of the most precious, wonderful gifts life has to offer, isn't it?

Joy is possible at all ages, in multi-faceted ways.  Consider these few:

      • successfully riding a bike for the first time;
      • picking up a squirming puppy who happily licks you;
      • seeing a sparkling hummingbird sip from your feeder;
      • hiking up a mountain to a spectacular vista;
      • promising "I do" to the one who has captured your heart;
      • holding your new born child.

But joy is not limited to wholly happy situations.  Joy is possible in times of difficulty, as well.  And it is as much a gift in that time, if not more, as it is in times of happiness.

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Today I Choose to Love


Sitting by the beach at Lake Erie only a few days before Mother's Day, I am pondering the concept of "choice" in love.  In the English folk song, "Johnny Has Gone For A Soldier"—which was a favorite tune during the American Civil War—a young woman determines to sell her spinning wheel in order to buy her beloved a weapon of defense in a time of war.

I have a spinning wheel, two, in fact.  The novel experience of spinning wool into yarn is usually fun, though I seldom make the time.  In fact, it took me eight years to spin enough wool to knit my husband a sweater!  Fortunately, since spinning is just a hobby for me, we have the opportunity to buy sweaters in a store.

It was not the same for the woman in the song.  In her era, a spinning wheel was a dearly held necessity.  Though it is hard to imagine now, a spinning wheel was once the technology that allowed one to make yarns/fabric/clothes and, for many, it was the critical piece of equipment for earning a living.

She chose to sell it in a breath-taking act of sacrifice.

Why?  Because of her love for Johnny.

Real love is photo-8not mere words. Instead, love is a day-by-day choice, most clearly discerned through generously unmeasured acts that benefit the loved one.

Today I choose to love.  How about you?


P.S. If you are in the Harrisburg, PA, region, I would love to meet you at the CHAP convention this weekend!  Be sure to catch my mini-concert at noon on Friday, featuring some of the stories and songs from the Experience History Through Music series.  Bring your sing-along voice, as it will be an audience participation concert! 

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Today I Choose to be Brave

I choose to be braveI have been thinking a lot about the realities of life for a slave in America, prior to the Civil War.  Research on the slave spiritual, Wade in the Water, reveals a connection between the experiences of the ancient Israelites as they fled enslavement in the Exodus, and the experiences of American slaves, who fled captivity on the Underground Railroad.  It took courage to leave the only life they knew, despite its brutality, and to flee into the unknown. And the leaving was not easy, as terror followed close behind—Pharaoh's army for the one, brutal slave-catchers for the other.  

What made that possible?  Why did some slaves in America brave the terrors of the trail while others remained behind in the familiar difficulties?

For me, the answer lies in the strength of the vision before them.  For those who fled, there was a soul-stirring hope that life could be different, that it could hold a freedom and joy beyond imagining. . . And it was vision that gave them the courage to leave, it was hope that emboldened their hearts to face the journey, despite the terrors following close behind.

There are many ways to be enslaved today.  And the answer is still the same:  with the courage borne of hope, take your first steps towards freedom, regardless of obstacles before you or  terror behind.

It is not easy.  But it opens the door to a life beyond our wildest dreams.

Today I choose to be brave.  How about you?

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Today I Choose to Sing

America Coverpage Westward Ho Coverpage Musical Memories Coverpage

Ok, I'll admit it.  I love to sing.  I've sung onstage, in church, in the shower, at meals, in the car, and at Starbucks in Auckland, New Zealand, and, most recently, in a fabulous performance of Beethoven's 9th.  Singing with my guitar, my husband, my kids, friends, choirs, all of it delights my heart.

But that is not what I am singing about today.  In researching the folk song, "Old Dan Tucker," I was intrigued to read of the Hutchison Family singers who turned it into a popular abolitionist tune. A family making music made me stop and think about 21st century America.

With our headphones, our iPods, and our music apps aside, what if we took a moment to explore an idea that is radically different than the norm? What would happen if, sometimes, singing were not canned, not orchestrated, and not perfect? 

What if sometimes we:

      • Sing--and encourage our children to sing?  
      • Make our own music, whether that meant writing it or playing it?  
      • Sing simple nursery rhymes with our kids (like, "Three Blind Mice")?
      • Teach others to sing in rounds (like "Row, Row, Row Your Boat")?
      • Pull out our dusty guitars, open up our old pianos, and find old sheet music for songs we used to sing?
      • Until recently, that is the way it was done.


It's not that I am not thankful for iTunes, who effortlessly provides me music while I write.  It's just that we seem to have lost something that can't be replaced with a purchase.

Knowing gardeners assure us that home-grown tomatoes have a taste no grocery-store tomato will ever have.  Singing is like that—open your mouth and give it a try!  I think you will discover, as I have, that singing will bring an invigorated delight no canned music will ever offer.

It takes time.  It takes practice to really enjoy the experience.  And, it is pretty counter-cultural in this era.  But, oh, my, it is FUN!!

So, today I choose to sing.  How about you?

If you need some encouragement to get singing, you will LOVE our new Experience History Through Music series!  You can sing with it, learn the songs with the sheet music and sing it yourself, and discover the American history surrounding the songs. Coming soon. . .

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Today I choose Freedom

Today I choose freedom

The word “freedom” is a loaded term.  In America, it evokes images of everything from the first day of summer vacation to the slaves being freed after the Civil War, and everything in between.

Since you and I have never lived under the helpless, hopeless, demeaning, overwhelming burden of slavery, we might not ever truly appreciate the experience of exquisite, life-giving, unhindered freedom. I would like to share with you a taste of what it meant to one who knew it first-hand.

A few weeks ago, researching the song All NIght, All Day for the upcoming book & CD, America, I happened upon an account of Josiah Hanson, a slave from the day he was born in 1789, until his escape to Canada in 1830. There was a vivid description of slavery—the real kind, being owned by some other person—which not only inflicted tremendous damage on this young man but continued to hinder him after he escaped to freedom.  His words indicate that, as an older man, he became more and more aware of the mountainous obstacles he faced through the lack of an education. (To read his story, click here.)

It made me think of a quote from Lois LeBar's classic, Education That Is Christian, words spoken by Daniel L. Marsh, president of Boston University in the early 1900s.

"Education should make us live life with zest, with gusto, with exuberance.

But so much that passes for education takes away the wonder of life, and

puts us in deadly peril of things named and classified. So much that

passes for education is only the smoke of a futile fire. . ."

That is true freedom, friends! Not enslaved by what "passes for education," we can, instead, be prepared through learning to thrive in whatever careers and service we find.

Today, I choose to walk in the amazing freedom of a life filled with zest, gusto and exuberance.  How about you?

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